Cutting through the options of hardscape saws

February 20, 2019 -  By
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Photo: Husqvarna

Photo: Husqvarna

What tools do you use to make hardscape projects successful? A cut-off saw is a versatile option when working with a variety of materials such as stone, pavers, concrete, steel or plastic. When looking to purchase a cut-off saw, contractors should consider a few different features for efficiency and ease of use.

We talked with product managers from Echo and Husqvarna to find out what’s new for these handheld tools.

Ergonomics

If there’s a way to lessen exhaustion after using a cut-off saw, landscape contractors will happily welcome a solution. Getting the saw started is the first step. Brad Mace, a product manager at Echo, says the typical operator will start the saw dozens of times per day. So, manufacturers, such as Echo, have taken steps to make sure the saw starts quicker and with less effort.

Christian Johnsson, Husqvarna

Christian Johnsson, Husqvarna

A spring-assist starter and a decompression valve can help reduce pulling effort for the operator, and a choke with automatic fast-idle provides more fuel to the engine and allows the saw to start faster with fewer rope pulls, Mace says. Additionally, a purge bulb provides fresh fuel to the carburetor.

When running a saw all day long, it’s important for the machine to include vibration reduction features and run smoothly. A rubber-coated handle can help absorb some of the machine’s impact while cutting, Mace says. “We’ve also isolated the engine, with rubber engine mounts, and the handle from the blade,” he adds.

To reduce vibrations from the saw, Husqvarna has developed metal springs in the handles of its power cutters, according to Christian Johnsson, Husqvarna’s North American product manager for handheld products. “One of the things we always have close to our hearts is ergonomics,” Johnsson says. “If you’re using a tool on a daily basis for several hours, we have to make sure you use the product with the best ergonomics.”

Safety

Photo: Echo

Photo: Echo

These machines are inherently dangerous with a big rotating blade at the front. No matter what, get the right education and know what you’re doing with the saw, Johnsson says. Reading the operator’s manual and the instructions first is the No. 1 step to safety. “Have someone else nearby with experience that can teach you and give you some tips,” he says.

Dust

The material these saws cut through produce dust that is typically abrasive. Protecting the operator and the machine’s engine are the two most important things to keep a job site safe and running efficiently. Air filters tend to clog quickly because there’s so much dust when cutting. This can bog down the unit, and it won’t have enough power when the air filter is clogged up.

A way to combat this is with a four-stage air filter, Mace says. “The filter takes all of the dust and debris out of the air stream before it even gets to the cylinder,” he says. “Because once it gets to the cylinder, it can do a lot of damage.”

Brad Mace, Echo

Brad Mace, Echo

With any saw, be sure to use a dust compression method that incorporates water or a vacuum system. Regardless if water or a vacuum is present, the landscape contractor should always wear a high-quality mask, such as one that meets APF 10 requirements, Mace says.

Noise

A lot of the sound you hear from a cut-off saw is the blade cutting through the material, which you can’t avoid, but Johnsson says there are ways to combat the noise of the machine itself. Equipment that runs on battery power instead of gas tends to be quieter. “If you don’t want a gas-driven power cutter, there’s options,” he says.

At the end of the day, Johnsson says, no matter how it’s powered you want the machine to be well balanced, easy to use, reliable and as lightweight as possible.

Danielle Pesta

About the Author:

Danielle Pesta is the associate editor of Landscape Management. She started writing for the green industry in 2014 and has won multiple awards from the Turf & Ornamental Communicators Association (TOCA). She can be reached at dpesta@northcoastmedia.net.

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